LISTEN: Tournament in Florida Marks 100 Years of Water Skiing

WINTER HAVEN -- A major international water skiing tournament is being held in this central Florida city on the 100th anniversary of the birth of water skiing.

The World Water Ski Tournament is taking place in Winter Haven, in central Florida, through Sunday. Teams and athletes from seven nations, including the United States, will take part. Events include individual and team competitions.

Most of the events will take place at Lake Silver in downtown Winter Haven. The opening ceremony will be held at Legoland, a site which has a unique connection to the sport.

Waterskiing was invented in Minnesota in 1922, but much of the development that followed happened in Florida. Dick Pope, Sr., founder of the Cypress Gardens attraction, brought the sport's creator down and started hosting ski shows. World War Two era GIs training in Florida discovered the sport and within a few years, so had Hollywood and television. The gardens became water skiing's mecca, as professional skiiers from around the world came down to compete and work with the best in their field. One of them is Mark Jackson, a former pro waterskier who is now the director of tourism and sports marketing for Polk County. He describes Winter Haven as "the Lambeau Field and Yankee Stadium" of the sport.

While Cypress Gardens converted to Legoland, a theme park aimed at families with young children, the sport continues to attract interest in Winter Haven. Shows featuring local skiers happen regularly at Lake Silver. Legoland itself presents kid-oriented shows.

Listen to an interview with Mark Jackson below:

Photo: Getty Images

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